BLOOMINGDALE While completing their senior year of high school, Jensen Cook and Elissa Thompson are also acquiring hands-on experience in the field of teaching. The students have earned the right to participate in a shadowing program specially designed for early childhood education students at the Jefferson County Vocational School.
In order to be placed in a classroom while finishing high school, Cook and Thompson have achieved exemplary marks in academic classes. They also have studied early childhood education at the JCJVS, participated in the Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America Club, and earned 13 credit hours toward a college degree.
"To qualify for this placement, ECE students must meet a high level of competency," said Becky Kelley JCJVS Early Childhood Education Instructor. "Attendance, grades, and behavior all factor into the decision to place a student into a cooperating classroom. The students' performance assessments are then based on weekly evaluations submitted by their cooperating instructors, and on written assignments related to the work they performed for the week."
Pictured are Jefferson County Vocational School Early Childhood Education students (left to right) Jensen Cook and Elissa Thompson who are participating in a shadowing program at Edison Local and Indian Creek Schools respectively.
Ms. Thompson, a senior from Edison Local, is assisting her home district in Mrs. Pasuik's first-grade class and Mrs. Sansone's special education classroom both at John Gregg Elementary. Evaluations from her cooperating instructors have been positive. In a March 17 evaluation, Pasiuk wrote: "Elissa is doing well. She is starting to feel more comfortable. The Students enjoy having her." Ms. Cook is assisting in Mrs. Voltz special education classroom at Wintersville Elementary, also part of the Indian Creek School District from which she will graduate this year. Kelley said Cook's cooperating instructor has reported excellent service, as well. While shadowing at their assigned schools, the two high school students grade assignments, administer tests, and work one on one with elementary students under the watchful eye of their cooperating instructors.
"A career in education requires discipline," Kelley said. "Students need an academic background combined with practical knowledge, and first-hand experience to become successful educators. I know when students graduate from our school's program they are prepared to excel, as they move forward with their careers."
"Vocational education has a reputation as the path students take when they do not want to attend college," said Ms. Shellie Waggoner, JCJVS Guidance Counselor. "That's an outdated idea. Our school is well equipped to assist students going straight to work, pursuing two-year degrees, or moving forward with four-year degree attainment plans."
Ms. Cook and Ms. Thompson set out on a specific college career path when they decided to attend a technical high school. They concur that they have had more opportunities at the JCJVS than they could have imagined during their junior and senior years of high school.
"I am certified in First Aid, CPR, and AED through the American Red Cross," Cook said. "I have completed communicable disease training, and I am a certified child abuse reporter. With my experience in the classroom, my certifications, the contacts and references that I have already compiled, plus the credit hours I have earned, my resume is already stacked!"
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, and based on information gathered in 2000, seventy percent of students who had earned four or more credits toward a postsecondary school while enrolled in a career-technical program had enrolled in college within ten months of graduation.
"The president and I believe that high-quality CTE programs are a vital strategy for helping our diverse students complete their secondary and postsecondary studies," National Secretary of Education Arne Duncan posted in a February 2014 blog. "In fact, by implementing dual enrollment and early college models, a growing number of CTE pathways are helping students to fast-track their college degrees."
As for Ms. Cook and Ms. Thompson, both students intend to complete four-year education degrees at Ohio University.
"I am looking forward to college," Thompson said. "I know I am prepared, and I am confident moving forward."